What if there had been no Easter?
Listen closely to this. Rise from the dead. I want to tell you six tragic things that would be true if Christ is still in that grave.
Welcome to Love Worth Finding, featuring the dynamic biblical teaching of pastor and author, Adrian Rogers. This is the gospel. Jesus Christ died for our sins. He was buried and rose again on the third day. But what if death had conquered? What if Jesus had stayed in the tomb? 1 Corinthians 15 gives a tragic account of our lives without a risen savior.
If you have your Bible, turn there now, beginning in verse 12, as Adrian Rogers answers an important question. What if there had been no Easter? What if there had been no Easter? What if Jesus Christ stayed in that tomb? What if death had conquered if there had been no Easter? Now, the apostle Paul deals with that question here, beginning in verse 12.
Listen to it. 1 Corinthians chapter 15, verse 12. Now, if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen? And if Christ be not risen, then there is nothing vain, and your faith is also vain. Yea, and we're found false witnesses of God, because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ, whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not. For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised. And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain. And if their sins, then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished.
If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. But now is Christ risen from the dead and become the firstfruits of them that slept. The greatest escape artist of all time was a man named Harry Houdini. He died in 1926.
Some of you may never have heard of him, but he was the sensation of his time. It seemed there was no way to imprison Harry. He would be put in the best jails. In a few moments, he would be out. They would put handcuffs on him.
They seemed to fall away. They would sew him up in canvas bags. Out he would come. They would rivet him in huge milk cans, but out he would come. He would be sealed in boilers and welded in. Out he would come.
He would be put in a coffin, chains around that coffin, dump it in the river. Out he would come. Some thought he had supernatural powers. He had the flexibility of an eel. He had the mind of a genius. He had the lives of a cat. Fulton Oistler said, that man could escape from anything but our memories. But in October 1926, Harry Houdini died. Now, he had experimented with contact with the dead. Necromancy, clairvoyancy, fortune telling, and he felt that all of these were fakers, and he would expose them, and they hated him. But he still wondered, can anyone truly escape from death? He told his wife, gave her a secret code that, on my birthday, I will try to contact you. Sensitize your mind.
Be ready for contact. They had a code word. She, on his birthday, would light a candle and sit before his picture. One year, he did not contact her.
Two years, three years, four years, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten. On the tenth year, she extinguished the candle and never tried again. Old death held Harry. He did not escape. Jesus went into the tomb.
He stayed there three days, and he walked out like a butterfly bursting from a cocoon, leaving the grave clothes in that tomb. Jesus Christ came forth. He is a risen Savior.
He did what Harry could not do, but the question comes. A thing unthinkable. Suppose Jesus Christ is still in that grave. Suppose Jesus did not rise from the dead.
I want to tell you six tragic things that would be true if Christ is still in that grave. Number one, preaching would be profitless. What we're doing today would be emphasized in futility. Look, if you will, in verse 14 here, of our text. And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain. Folks, you're wasting your time. I am wasting my time if Jesus Christ is still in the grave.
This is a very profitless thing that we're doing now. Preaching is vain. It is empty if Christ is still in that grave. Every liberal preacher who does not believe in the resurrection of Jesus Christ ought to go get an honest job. Let me tell you what a preacher said.
It's amazing. He said, and I quote, speaking of Jesus, his body lies in a nameless Syrian tomb, but his deathless spirit goes marching on. Somebody ought to call for that man's credentials. Jesus Christ is alive, for that man is an imposter, and he is a fake and a fraud and has no business in anybody's ministry.
This is the gospel, that Christ died for our sins, that he was buried and rose again the third day, and without that, the man has no gospel to preach. I heard of a time back when haircuts were 50 cents back in the olden days. A preacher went in the barbershop and got a haircut, and he started to pay the barber. The barber said, no, that's all right. You're a pastor.
I'm not going to charge you. The pastor said, no, I want to pay. He said, no, I will come listen to you preach, and I'll take it out in preaching. The pastor said, I don't have any 50-cent sermons.
The barber said, that's okay. I'll come twice. I want to tell you that a sermon that does not believe in the resurrection of Jesus Christ as far as I am concerned is a profitless, worthwhile exercise in futility. Number two, not only is preaching profitless, but if Jesus Christ is still in the grave, faith would be foolish. Listen again to verse 14, and if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain.
Why would that be? Well, why put faith in a dead Messiah? You see, faith is no serious object.
A dead man can't save anyone. Our faith in Jesus Christ is not worth anything if Jesus Christ is still in the grave. How do we know that He is the Son of God? How do we know that He is God incarnate?
The Bible says He's shown to be the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead. Jesus Christ is alive. He's alive. A teacher asked the students to write an essay on the greatest living man. One student wrote an essay on Jesus Christ. The teacher said, Son, that's a good essay, but I said, living man. The student said, teacher, He is alive.
He is alive. We don't put our faith in a dead Messiah. He's declared to be the Son of God with power due to the spirit of holiness by the resurrection from the dead. Romans 1, verse 4. But if He's still in that grave, preaching is profitless. Faith is foolish. Number three, the disciples are deceivers if Jesus Christ did not rise. Look, if you will, in verses 15 and 16. Paul goes on with his argument and says, If Christ be not risen, yea, and we are found false witnesses of God, because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ, whom He raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not. For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised.
Now, notice what he's saying. Look again in verse 15. We are found false witnesses.
Now, get the whole thing. Paul is not saying if Jesus is still in the grave, then we're mistaken. It's one thing to be mistaken. Friend, it's another thing to be a false witness. What Paul says is, if Jesus Christ is still in the grave, then we're telling a lie.
Now, you have to ask yourself this question, therefore. Were the disciples liars? Were they deceivers?
If so, why? Why would they deceive? Why would they lie?
Well, you say people lie for gain. What gain did they have if Jesus Christ is still in the grave? How did they die? They died as martyrs. They were tortured. They were persecuted. They were burned at the stake. They read in the mouths of lions. They were stoned. They were crushed.
They were humiliated. Now, listen to me. Hypocrites and martyrs are not made of the same stuff. People tell lies to get out of trouble, not to get into trouble.
A man may live for a lie, but few, if any, men will willingly die for a lie if they know it's a lie. These people are saying, listen, we have seen him. We have touched him.
We have handled him. Are you going to tell me that Simon Peter was a con man, that John the apostle was a murderer, that the apostle Paul, who wrote most of the New Testament, was a known perjurer and a deceiver and a false witness, and these men would die for a lie? Of course not. But if Christ is still in the grave, preaching is profitless. Faith is foolish. The disciples would be deceivers.
Now, let's look at something. If Jesus Christ is still in that grave, sin would be sovereign. Sin has won.
Notice in chapter 15, verse 17. And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain, ye are yet in your sin. All of us have sinned.
There's not a one who's in sin, not a one. But if Jesus Christ is in the grave, you are a sinner by birth, by nature, by practice, by choice, and you have no hope of forgiveness apart from the death of the Lord Jesus Christ. God cannot just overlook your sin. If God were to judge sin, God would cease to be holy. If God were to merely overlook sin, God would topple from His throne of holiness. God never let sin go unpunished.
Your sin will be pardoned in Christ or punished in hell, but it will never be overlooked. But if Jesus Christ is still in the grave, that means that God did not accept the sacrifice of Calvary. How do we know that Jesus Christ is the Son of God? How do we know that Jesus Christ was not just a religious fanatic? How do we know that Jesus Christ was not just someone with a martyr complex who happened to get crucified and that's it?
How do we know that God accepted the sacrifice of Calvary, the resurrection? The Bible says He was delivered for our offenses and raised again for our justification. Living He loved me.
Dying He saved me. Buried He carried my sins far away. Rising He crucified freely forever. No resurrection, no Savior. No Savior, no forgiveness. His death without His resurrection cannot save anybody.
He was delivered for our offenses. The Bible says He was raised for our justification. But if Christ is still in the grave, none of us have half a hallelujah's hope of death because Christ is still in the grave and we are yet in our sins and the wages of sin is death. The soul that sinneth, it shall surely die. Now, if anything had been lacking in His beautiful life, in His sinless atonement, God would have left Him. The Father would have left Him in the grave.
All right, next. If Jesus Christ be not raised, then death has dominion. Death has dominion. Look, if you will, not only is sin sovereign, but death has dominion. Look in I Corinthians 15, verse 18. Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ have perished.
They have a loved one, a father, mother, brother, sister, child. Forget it. They're gone. They've perished. That's it.
It is over. Death has dominion if Jesus Christ is still in that grave. Life is nothing but a cruel joke. All any of us can look forward to is getting sicker, finally winding down to the grave, being cremated or covered with dirt, letting greedy microbes eat away at our flesh, and that's it.
That's it. Death has dominion. The dead have perished. Are you going to tell me something as wonderful as a human life, something as glorious as the bond between humans has no more meaning than that, just to die and back to the ground, and that's it? That's what we're going to look forward to?
No. Death does not have dominion. Christ is risen. Those that have fallen asleep in Christ have not perished.
He is alive. You can go to Rome and go to the catacombs, the catacombs of those underground tunnels, more than 600 miles of these underneath Rome, dug in the soft clay, about eight feet tall, about that wide, maybe five feet wide in places, niches in the side where the pagans and the Christians would bury their dead beneath the ground. You can walk through those catacombs. There's some 60 different ones there in there.
They've been in them on a number of occasions. You can read the inscriptions that the pagans left there for their dead. You can see there's no hope, only despair.
Listen to some of them. Live for the present hour since we're sure of nothing else. Here's another. I will lift up my hands against the gods who took me away at the age of 20, though I had done no harm. Here's another. Once I was not, now I am not.
I know nothing about it, and it's no concern of mine. Another. Traveler, curse me not as you pass, for I am in darkness and cannot answer. That's pagan death.
Let me read some of the inscriptions of the Christians, how different they were. Here is Marcia, put to rest in the dream of peace. Lawrence, to his sweetest son, carried away by the angels.
Called, he went in peace. Victorious in life, victorious in peace, and victorious in Christ. What a difference Jesus makes.
How great to know that there is a God who in the form of man, the Lord Jesus Christ, grappled with the iron bars of death and is victorious. And I'm here to tell you that death does not have dominion because Christ rose. Now, number six, if preaching is prophetless, if disciples are deceivers, if faith is futile, friend, if sin is sovereign, if death has dominion, then the future is fearful.
The future would be fearful. Look, if you will, in verse 19. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. A wise man once said, if Jesus Christ is still in that grave, nothing really matters. But if Jesus Christ came out of that grave, nothing but that really matters. Would you agree to that?
I do. If Jesus Christ walked out of that grave. You see, friend, without the resurrection, we're just poor, deluded fools.
We are of all people most miserable, and the future is fearful. Jesus Christ is the one who walked out of that grave and He took the sting out of sin. He took the dread out of death.
He took the gloom out of the grave, and He has given us a hope that is steadfast and sure. And so I'm going to die if Jesus doesn't come soon. You're going to die if Jesus doesn't come soon.
What is your future? Is it fearful? Not if Jesus rose from the dead. Have your sins been forgiven? Are you sure that Jesus Christ is in your heart? If so, then I want to tell you, friend, preaching is profitable. Faith is feasible.
The disciples are tendable. Sin has been subdued. Death has been defeated. And the future is fabulous.
We know where we're headed. The truth of the ages is that Jesus Christ came out of that grave. Only foolishness doubts the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Jesus lives.
The question is to you. You may have existence. But you don't have real life until you know the Lord Jesus Christ. May I lead you in a prayer? And in this prayer, you can receive the gift of eternal life through the resurrected Jesus Christ who was delivered for our offenses and raised for our justification and shown to be the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead. Now is Christ risen.
Would you pray this prayer? Lord Jesus, thank you for dying for me. Thank you for paying my sin debt with your blood on the cross. I believe it, and I receive it. Now by faith, I accept you into my heart, into my life as my Lord and Savior. Forgive my sin, cleanse me, save me. I give my life to you, and I receive you as my Lord and Savior. Now, Lord Jesus, I belong to you. I will not be ashamed of you.
I will live for you the rest of my life. I'm weak. You're strong. So begin now to make me the person you want me to be, and give me the strength now to make this public. In your name I pray. Amen.
Amen. And if you've prayed to receive Jesus just now, let us celebrate with you. We invite you to our Find God's Love page at our website. You'll find answers you may need about your newfound faith. Simply click the tab that says Find God's Love when you go to lwf.org slash radio.
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